The Real Arsenic and Old Lace

We have recently received a new book entitled The Devil’s Rooming House: The True Story of America’s Deadliest Serial Killer by M. William Phelps. It is the story of Amy Archer-Gilligan (1873-1962) who was a nursing-home operator as well as a serial killer. Archer and her first husband, James, opened Sister Amy’s Nursing Home for the Elderly in Newington, Connecticut in 1901. They prospered and in 1907 relocated to Windsor, Connecticut and opened the Archer Home for the Elderly and Infirm. But James Archer died suddenly after the move and Amy collected on a large insurance policy. She continued to run the Archer Home. She was remarried to Michael Gilligan, who was a wealthy widower, who also died suddenly and she was left all of his estate. A reporter for the Hartford-Courant became suspicious of Amy after noticing the copious number of obituaries originating at the Archer Home. Amy was accused and tried for murdering both of her husbands and residents of the nursing home by giving them a cocktail of lemonade and arsenic.She was convicted and sentenced to life in Wethersfield Prison and then sent to an insane asylum. This story became the basis for the play and movie Arsenic and Old Lace.

Comments are closed.